Category 3 - THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES
Telehealth Specialist Services
These notes provide information on the telehealth MBS video consultation items by specialists, consultant physicians and psychiatrists. A video consultation involves a single specialist, consultant physician or psychiatrist attending a patient, with the possible support of another medical practitioner, a participating optometrist, a participating nurse practitioner, a participating midwife, practice nurse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner or Aboriginal health worker at the patient end of the video conference. The decision as to whether the patient requires clinical support at the patient end of the specialist service is based on whether the support is necessary for the provision of the specialist service. Telehealth specialist services can be provided to patients when there is no patient-end support service provided.
MBS items numbers 99, 112, 149, 288, 389, 2820, 3015, 6016, 13210, 16399 and 17609 allow a range of existing MBS attendance items to be provided via video conferencing. These items have a derived fee which is equal to 50% of the schedule fee for the consultation item claimed (e.g. 50% of the schedule fee for item 104) when billed with one of the associated consultation items (such as 104). A patient rebate of 85% for the derived fee is payable.
Six MBS item numbers (113, 114, 384, 2799, 3003 and 6004) provide for an initial attendance via videoconferencing by a specialist, consultant physician, consultant occupational physician, pain medicine specialist/consultant physician, palliative medicine specialist/consultant physician or neurosurgeon where the service is 10 minutes or less. The items are stand alone items and do not have a derived fee.
Where an attendance is more than 10 minutes, practitioners should use the existing item numbers consistent with the current arrangements. Normal restrictions which apply for initial consultations will also apply for these items. For example, if a patient has an initial consultation via telehealth, they cannot also claim an initial face-to-face consultation as part of the same course of treatment.
The specialist, consultant physician or psychiatrist must be satisfied that it is clinically appropriate to provide a video consultation to a patient. The decision to provide clinically relevant support to the patient is the responsibility of the specialist, consultant physician or psychiatrist.
Telehealth specialist services can be provided to patients when there is no patient-end support service provided.
The MBS telehealth attendance items are not payable for services to an admitted hospital patient (this includes hospital in the home patients). Benefits are not payable for telephone or email consultations. In order to fulfill the item descriptor there must be a visual and audio link between the patient and the remote practitioner. If the remote practitioner is unable to establish both a video and audio link with the patient, a MBS rebate for a telehealth attendance is not payable.
All video consultations provided by specialists, consultant physicians or psychiatrists must be separately billed. That is, only the relevant telehealth MBS consultation item and the associated derived item are to be itemised on the account/bill/voucher. Any other service/item billed should be itemised on a separate account/bill/voucher. This will ensure the claim is accurately assessed as being a video consultation and paid accordingly.
Practitioners should not use the notation 'telehealth', 'verbal consent' or 'Patient unable to sign' to overcome administrative difficulties to obtaining a patient signature for bulk billed claims (for further information see mbsonline.gov.au/telehealth).
Eligible Geographical Areas
Geographic eligibility for telehealth services funded under Medicare are determined according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) classifications. Telehealth Eligible Areas are areas that are outside a Major City (RA1) according to ASGC-RA (RA2-5). Patients and providers are able to check their eligibility by following the links on the MBS Online website (www.mbsonline.gov.au/telehealth).
There is a requirement for the patient and specialist to be located a minimum of 15km apart at the time of the consultation. Minimum distance between specialist and patient video consultations are measured by the most direct (ie least distance) route by road. The patient or the specialist is not permitted to travel to an area outside the minimum 15 km distance in order to claim a video conference.
This rule will not apply to specialist video consultation with patients who are a care recipient in a residential care service; or at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service for which a direction made under subsection 19(2) of the Health Insurance Act 197, as these patients are able to receive telehealth services anywhere in Australia.
Telehealth Eligible Service Areas are defined at www.mbsonline.gov.au/ telehealth eligible areas
Participating telehealth practitioners must keep contemporaneous notes of the consultation including documenting that the service was performed by video conference, the date, time and the people who participated.
Only clinical details recorded at the time of the attendance count towards the time of the consultation. It does not include information added at a later time, such as reports of investigations.
Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN)
All telehealth consultations (with the exceptions of the participating optometrist telehealth items) are subject to EMSN caps. The EMSN caps for ART and Obstetric telehealth items 13210 and 16399 were set in reference to the EMSN caps applying to the base ART and Obstetric consultation items.
The EMSN caps for all other telehealth consultation items are equal to 300% of the schedule fee (to a maximum of $500). The maximum EMSN benefit for a telehealth consultation is equal to the sum of the EMSN cap for the base item and the EMSN cap for the telehealth items.
Video consultations are subject to the same aftercare rules as practitioners providing face-to-face consultations.
Multiple attendances on the same day
In some situations a patient may receive a telehealth consultation and a face to face consultation by the same or different practitioner on the same day.
Medicare benefits may be paid for more than one video consultation on a patient on the same day by the same practitioner, provided the second (and any following) video consultations are not a continuation of the initial or earlier video consultations. Practitioners will need to provide the times of each consultation on the patient's account or bulk billing voucher.
The referral procedure for a video consultation is the same as for conventional face-to-face consultations.
In order to fulfill the item descriptor there must be a visual and audio link between the patient and the remote practitioner. If the remote practitioner is unable to establish both a video and audio link with the patient, a MBS rebate for a telehealth attendance is not payable.
Individual clinicians must be confident that the technology used is able to satisfy the item descriptor and that software and hardware used to deliver a videoconference meets the applicable laws for security and privacy.
- Assist - Addition/Deletion of (Assist.)
- Amend - Amended Description
- Anaes - Anaesthetic Values Amended
- Emsn - EMSN Change
- Fee - Fee Amended
- Renum - Item Number Change (renumbered)
- New - New Item
- NewMin - New Item (previous Ministerial Determination)
- Qfe - QFE Change